By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Leadership Marshfield began as the innovation of Fritz Wenzel, Sally Cutler, and former Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MACCI) Executive Director and Mayor Marilyn Hardacre. Its first class graduated in May 1993.
“I was working at the (Marshfield) Clinic at the time, and Fritz was the executive director,” recalled Cutler. “He was aware of this happening in bigger communities and thought it was something Marshfield should implement.
“He put together a group. … Because I was in education, Fritz put me on the committee.”
The group aimed to integrate young professionals into the community and groom leaders that would benefit the Marshfield area into the future.
Today, Leadership Marshfield annually sends out 25 potential leaders into the community, operating under the Marshfield Area Chamber Foundation and supported by the Leadership Council, MACCI staff, and a network of volunteers and alumni.
“This program has served as a tool to nurture and grow Marshfield’s future leaders,” said MACCI Program Director Debbie Bauer. “It has provided participants with a professional network and given them the resources to develop both personally and professionally and retain them in our community.
“Throughout the eight months, an awareness of everything Marshfield has to offer is presented. Learning what we have right in here in Marshfield helps to attract people to live, work, learn, and play here.
“It also encourages participants to think local before going or looking elsewhere. As future leaders in our community, it also helps to attract and retain a qualified workforce by making them better informed when ‘selling’ Marshfield.”
The cost of the program is $795, which covers the eight months of programming, meals, snacks, transportation, materials, and facilitation costs.
“Candidates submit an application in June,” explained Bauer. “Applications are reviewed by the Leadership Marshfield Council, and 25 participants are selected. A commitment by the participant and the employer is a must for acceptance.”
Once selected, participants are committed to eight monthly program sections, which begin in September and run through April. These educational segments include a two-day retreat followed by programs on quality of life, education, public safety, local government, health care, business and economic development, and a graduation program.
In addition, the 25 participants are divided into five groups that complete a community project to expand their knowledge and experience outside of the monthly sessions.
Projects are chosen by the groups based on their interests and target areas of the community where they might fill a need. Over 100 programs and projects have been implemented through the Leadership Marshfield program, many of which continue to resonate in the community today.
As Leadership Marshfield approaches 25 years of inspiring leaders in the community, Hub City Times will explore the programs that have been created through Leadership Marshfield projects that continue to benefit the area as well as those being instituted by this year’s class of leaders.
Next week: The Young Professionals project